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There are no special gifts bestowed upon anyone. All may know for themselves the truth concerning the pilgrimage of the spirit through matter, its method and its object. There is a method whereby this valuable knowledge may be acquired and by which, if persistently followed, God-like powers may be developed.
The ego has several instruments: a dense body, a vital body, a desire body, and a mind. These are the tools of the spirit, and upon their quality and condition depends how much or how little can be accomplished in its work of getting experience in each life. The archetypes of these vehicles are built before each earth life. The vehicles themselves are good, bad, or indifferent according to what we have learned through past experience in the building of them. As one works with these wonderful tools, they improve and grow in power and efficiency.
The time required to achieve positive spiritual development varies with each individual and depends upon his application, his stage in evolution, and his ripe destiny to be liquidated in any particular life. If one has become aroused from the usual lethargy and is anxious to progress, the question usually arises: "What must I do?" The answer is: Labor to protect your vehicles, and at the same time constantly employ them in the service of humanity. Work on the different bodies of man is carried on synchronously. One body cannot be influenced without affecting the others, but the principal work in any particular life may be done on any one of them.
The object of this work on the bodies is union with the Higher Self. Through the strictest attention to hygiene and diet the dense body is particularly benefited. This also produces a slight effect on the vital and desire bodies. As purer and better materials are built into the dense body, its particles are enveloped in purer planetary ether and desire stuff. But if attention is paid to food and hygiene only, the vital and desire bodies may remain almost the same as they were, except that it is just a little easier for the person to get into contact with the invisible worlds than if the gross foods were used.
Esoteric development does not commence until work on the vital body begins. The fundamental principle in building the vital body is repetition. It is therefore of the very highest importance that spiritual truths be given utterance again and again, in an endeavor to express the Christ love and altruism in everyday life. The Leaders of humanity, who desire to give us help by certain exercises, instituted prayer as a means of bringing the power of lofty thoughts to work upon the vital body. If we pray aright, we lift ourselves to God, thus working upon and purifying our vital bodies.
Concentration is invaluable in helping to separate the two higher ethers of the vital body from the two lower, the former then constituting the soul body. This separation is necessary before the aspirant can travel or function consciously on the higher planes. However, when prayer is inspired by a pure, unselfish devotion to high ideals, it is much more effective than cold concentration.
Most people leave physical life with nearly the same temperament which they brought into it. But the aspirant must do more than this; he must systematically conquer all attempts of the desire body to assume mastery. He must overcome with noble aspirations the selfish love which seeks the ownership of another, and subdue all desire for wealth, power, or fame arising from narrow, personal motives. A fit of temper may result in poisoning the whole system. Therefore the aspirant should cultivate an even temper amid the various annoyances of daily life.
The mind is one of the most useful instruments of the spirit; but it is also very hard to control at man's present stage of development. A thorough, comprehensive study of the scheme of cosmic evolution is of immense value in mastering the mind. It trains the mind in abstract thought, and elevates it above the sordid things of concrete existence, thus helping the imagination to soar beyond the hampering toils of self-interest.
The mind may become amenable to the dictates of the spirit within through the following exercises: concentration, meditation, observation, discrimination, contemplation, and finally adoration of the Supreme. The last is the highest step possible, whereby man unites himself with the source of all things, reaching by that act the highest goal possible of attainment until the time when permanent union takes place at the end of this Great Day of Manifestation.
The keyword of the Rosicrucian method of spiritual development is service. Repetition of right thoughts, desires, feelings, and emotions expressed through right actions (self-forgetting service) is the shortest, the safest, and the most joyful road to God. Thus shall we come to a conscious realization of the unity of all life, the "fundamental unity of each with all." We can ultimately get from the universe only as much as we give to it. At the present time we are mainly debtors, not creditors. We can pay our debts to the universe and become eligible for promotion to higher states only by working to perfect our vehicles and by service to humanity.
[You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include the course name and Independent Study Module number in your e-mail to us. Or, you are also welcome to use the answer form below. (Java required)]
1. Name the vehicles of the spirit.
2. How may positive spiritual development be attained?
3. What is the nature of prayer, and how does it develop the finer vehicles?
4. Compare concentration with prayer.
5. What definite progress must the aspirant to the higher life make?
6. By what exercises may the mind be developed?
7. How may we pay our debts to the universe?
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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